O’Leno State Park is one of the oldest state parks in Florida. Located 6 miles north of High Springs, it is one of the original 9 developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. The park is situated along the Santa Fe River, a tributary of the Suwannee, at the site where the historic town of Leno once existed.
The park boasts 2 full-service campgrounds, as well as primitive youth and group camping areas. The developed camping loops, Dogwood and Magnolia, together contain 61 sites for RVs and tents. Each campsite has electric and water hookups, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Each loop has a restroom and shower facility and a handicapped-accessible site. In addition, Magnolia loop contains a playground. A dump station for waste water disposal is centrally located. The primitive youth camping area is reserved for organized, non-profit youth groups. The group camp has 16 cabins that can accommodate 120 campers, a dining hall with a fully-equipped kitchen, a recreation hall, and an open-air pavilion. The cabins are primitive and do not have air conditioning or central heating, nor are bed linens provided. Tents and pets are not permitted in the group camp.
Those fond of history will find a few points of interest in O’Leno State Park. The town of Leno supported a grist mill. The mill dams along the river can still be seen near the suspension bridge. The millstones and gears are on display at a pavilion in the group camp area, along with signage explaining how the mill worked. There is also, in the same area, a small museum dedicated to the CCC and a kiosk with information about the de Soto Expedition. O’Leno is one of 34 stops on the Hernando de Soto Trail of 1539 that was funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.
Recreational opportunities in O’Leno include hiking, cycling, swimming, fishing, picnicking, canoeing on the Santa Fe, wildlife viewing/birding, and geocaching. Canoes and bicycles can be rented at the ranger station. Paddlers are permitted travel only upriver from the boat launch. There is also an outfitter, Santa Fe Canoe Outpost, south of the park along Hwy. 441, where you can rent and launch canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks.
Hiking trails in the park include the 0.61-mile Limestone Trail that takes hikers past an abandoned limestone quarry that provided building material for the park; the 1.44-mile River Trail that crosses the suspension bridge over the Santa Fe, runs along the river and past sinkhole lakes, and crosses the land bridge at the Santa Fe Sink where the river goes underground; and the 3.69-mile Parener’s Branch loop trail that passes several natural sinks. There is also a 12-mile-long, paved cycling and pedestrian trail that connects O’Leno and Ichetucknee Springs State Parks.
Reservations for the developed campgrounds can be made up to 11 months in advance through Reserve America online at this web site or by phoning (800) 326-3521.
The youth and group camps and picnic pavilions can be reserved by calling the ranger station at (386) 454-1853.